Just One More Thing/Just One Less Thing

The end of July I had a medical procedure. My mom came in town to help me recuperate for the first few days. Overall, the recovery period was expected to take a couple of weeks. After a couple of days, I was feeling pretty good, so I was up out of bed and flitting around the house. My mom cautioned me saying “You need to rest”, and so on. My reply to her each time was, “I’m going to do just one more thing, then I will”. Of course, I paid for it that day and for a few days following, due to my complete disregard of pacing myself. In fact, the following week I had a harder time physically than I’d had right after my procedure.
Can anyone else relate to that? How many times does that happen? Perhaps not necessarily after surgery but just in general. Surely, I am not alone in this habit of overdoing it. I believe many of us pile things on and over- extend ourselves all while thinking, “I’ll stop or slow down after I do just one more thing”.
However, I am realizing, there is ALWAYS “one more thing” to be done. The list of “to do’s” never ends. This can be especially true as we begin a new school year. Organizing classrooms, preparing lessons, purchasing materials (usually with your own money), attending professional development sessions, reacclimating to early mornings and full agendas are all part of the “back to school” ramp up. I follow someone on twitter who asked educators to reply in GIF form how they are feeling about preparing for back to school. It was hilarious to see some of the memes people used to describe their mood. Some denoted excitement and enthusiasm and others showed complete exhaustion. I’m sure that there is a little bit of all of that in everyone as they embark on a new school year; excitement, anticipation and a little bit of dread or exhaustion to get “back to reality”.
The intention behind Living S.L.O.W. is to help educators become more aware of simple ways to incorporate self-care in their busy lives. Since we are all very good at pushing through and doing “one more thing”, my hope is we can shift that perspective and look for ways to do “one LESS thing”.
As I mentioned above, my overdoing it really took a toll on me physically. It made me stay in bed for almost 2 days and I had to take more rest breaks for the following week. That necessary and required time out forced me to begin to evaluate the significance of things on my to do list. I had to determine what were things I could skip doing or delegate to someone else or could simply wait (The “W” in S.L.O.W.). I began identifying and prioritizing tasks in a more selective way. “This load of laundry can wait”. “Someone else can unload the dishwasher, or not. The dishes won’t get dirty sitting in there for a couple days”. “Is there a coworker who can make this call?” I was conscious about finding one less thing to do. What could I take off the list? It’s interesting how less crucial things feel when you don’t have a choice, when you actually can’t do them. My perspective about what NEEDED to be done or about ME needing to do them, shifted. At the end of the day it was pretty freeing, actually.
I’m feeling better these days and back to my regularly scheduled life, BUT I am much more aware of how I pace myself and structure my time. I’m intentional about looking for and removing one thing from my daily tasks as much as I can (like not posting this blog on the 1st of the month like I always do, because I was on vacation and waiting to post it today, the 2nd, when I returned). I guess even the person who touts the importance of self-care to everyone around her has to continue to practice it herself.
My encouragement to you is as you begin a new school year or even just a new month, consciously look for ways to lighten your load. Instead of doing “one more thing” look for “one less thing” to do. What can you say no to, or ask someone else to do, or put off for another day or time? Some things and some people absolutely need our attention but that is not the case for everything or everyone and definitely not every day or all the time. Let your “one more thing” be identifying one LESS thing you can do today for yourself. Take care of you!